This new translation by Brendan King is the first for nearly fifty years. Capturing the lively linguistic inventiveness of the original, it also includes an introduction and comprehensive notes. First published in 1876, "Marthe" was an important landmark in J.K. Huysmans's literary career: it was the 28-year old writer's first excursion into the novel form and propelled him into the growing ranks of the Naturalist movement, then beginning to take shape under Zola's direction. "Marthe" was one of the first French novels to tackle head-on the subject of prostitution, a theme that was to become a central preoccupation in the work of many novelists, painters and poets. Set in and around the demi-monde of the Parisian music hall, it centres on a would-be actress, Marthe, who works in one of the lowest dives in Paris, and tells the story of her brief and ultimately doomed relationship with Leo, a romantic searching for something to take the place of his lost illusions. "M. Huysmans leads us into places so foul, dens so iniquitous, that his readers, however shameless you imagine them to be, can no longer follow him". - "Gazette Anecdotique", 1876. J. K.
Huysmans's early works excel in their descriptive ability and he is one of the greatest authors in describing the life of Paris and its surroundings as witnessed by his Parisian Sketches (Dedalus translation by Brendan King in 2004). The publication of "A Rebours" in 1884, made Huysmans one of the most famous authors of his day. His novel about Satanism, "La-Bas" (1891) is surely the cult novel of the nineteenth century. (Brendan King's translation was selected by Beryl Bainbridge as one of the best books published in 2001 in "The Independent"). "La-Bas" is the first of four novels about Huysmans alter ego Durtal, which was followed by "En Route" (1895), "The Cathedral" (1898), and "The Oblate of St Benedict" (1903), all available from Dedalus. Robert Baldick's "The Life of J.-.K.Huysmans" was published by Dedalus in March 2006.